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Super Slow Way Launch Programme

Super Slow Way, an arts commissioning programme established to get more people creating and enjoying art announces its ambitious programme for 2016.

Super Slow Way, an arts commissioning programme established to get more people creating and enjoying art in Pennine Lancashire, announces its ambitious programme for 2016.

Programme highlights include a specially commissioned Rhapsody to mark the bicentennial of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal; Kinara Festival, a month of events exploring Islamic art and culture; a mass participation project drawing on the diverse vocal traditions of the area led by US artist Suzanne Lacy; and launching today, Stephen Turner’s Exbury Egg, a self-sustaining workspace.

Two hundred years ago the canal was the artery that fed the Industrial Revolution in Pennine Lancashire. Now, Super Slow Way seeks to start a creative revolution, this time powered by art and people. Super Slow Way’s range of events and residencies for 2016 respond to three themes inspired by the canal: manufacturing, past and present; the natural environment; and the digital world. Above all, as the name suggests, the projects will give space and time to artists and communities to develop ideas, form relationships and experiment with new approaches.

Today marks the culmination of a year’s work and collaboration with local communities along the canal, with new elements of the programme being announced to run alongside projects already underway, including idle women’s floating arts centre for women and girls, currently hosting resident artist Martina Mullaney, her daughter and her dog who will be staying on the boat Selina Cooper for the next three months, working with women’s groups in the Burnley area.

Super Slow Way Director Laurie Peake has been working on developing this groundbreaking programme since she came on board 16 months ago. “Since its beginnings as an idea among local artists and organisations, Super Slow Way has grown into a fully formed, ambitious programme that I am delighted to be announcing today,” she said.

“Over the last year, we have sparked hundreds of relationships with communities along the canal in Pennine Lancashire. Collaboration and transformation are at the heart of our programme. Together with artists, our partner organisations and thousands of participants we aim to spark a slow revolution in 2016, the year of the Bicentenary of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal: the inspiration behind our name .”

“In listening and responding to communities, Super Slow Way is bringing people together and giving them the time and space to explore and experiment, making this a unique project that we hope will touch lives and potentially transform communities. Whether working in a gentle and intimate way with small groups like artists Cath Ford and Jean Mcewan, or bringing hundreds of people together in mass participation projects such as Suzanne Lacy’s work in Pendle and Anthony Schrag’s in Mill Hill, our programme aims to be a catalyst for change and a showcase for doing things the slow way in Pennine Lancashire.”


The Exbury Egg, which is being unveiled today, is Stephen Turner’s evolving artwork, which acts as his home, workspace, meeting place, hide, observatory and museum, as part of the artist’s continuing performative practice. The egg-shaped structure will be located beside the Leeds & Liverpool Canal on Finsley Gate Wharf in Burnley until the Autumn, while Stephen will be in residence conducting personal, environmental, historical and cultural investigations on the site with the people of Burnley Wood, and his hosts at the Burnley Wood Community Centre. He hopes the project will enable local people to share knowledge of the past of the site, to explore its present state and to better inform its future.

US artist Suzanne Lacy is developing a mass participation project Shapes of Water, Sounds of Hope,bringing together around 1,000 residents from Pendle to share food, culture, and experiences; culminating in a mass community celebration at the former Smith & Nephews Mill in Brierfield. It is open to all, and draws on vocal traditions including Shape Note, 19th-century folk ballads and Sufi chanting, giving participants the opportunity to sing, write songs about their lives and experiences, share food and participate in the production aspects of the final event in the mill.

To mark the bicentennial of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Super Slow Way: A Rhapsody to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, by composer Ian Stephens with a libretto by poet Ian McMillan, will be debuted on 16 October 2016 at King George’s Hall in Blackburn. Hundreds of Blackburn's choral voices will be joined by the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band and soloists, soprano Amanda Roocroft and cellist Jonathan Aasgaard as well as Ian McMillan himself to tell the story of the country's longest waterway that took almost half a century to build; its tragedies, its triumphs and the personal stories along the way, past and present. 

Commenting on his work for the project, Ian McMillan said: “In my words for Super Slow Way I've tried to capture the way the canal is a story of endeavour, of hard work, of history-in-the-making and the impossibly romantic project of cutting a trail of water across the North.”

The Kinara Festival will take place at venues across Pennine Lancashire in July 2016 to explore and celebrate culture, music and performance from across the Muslim world. Designed and produced by arts organisation Love & Etiquette, the festival is a rich and diverse offering that reflects the cultural and ethnic diversity in the area and celebrates its rich heritage. The festival takes its name, Kinara, from the Arabic word meaning a border; edge; brink or verge, as the margin where water meets land. It will feature performances, live music, film screenings, workshops, stand up comedy and discussions. Highlights include Hurriyah, an animation installation by Soraya Syed; a photography masterclass with acclaimed photographer of the Muslim world, Peter Sanders; and Safar, a weekend of live music featuring artists from Palestine to the UK.

The summer programme culminates with a weekend of slow living at the all new, all slow, Burnley Canal Festival. An experience-led expression of the Super Slow Way programme, this festival will celebrate the Bicentenary Year with an enhanced programme of art, music and traditional crafts. With the chance to explore the canal, families can discover slow culture across food, craft, making, art and performance that will bring the unique environment of the waterways to life. 

Super Slow Way is funded by the Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places programme. The £2 million project is supported by a partnership including the Canal & River Trust, Newground, four local authorities and Arts Partnership Pennine Lancashire (APPL). 

Alison Clark, Director North, Arts Council England said: "Creative People and Places is a national success story. In the first two years of the programme over a million people took part, many of whom were not regular arts attenders. We're delighted that Super Slow Way is launching its programme in Pennine Lancashire, bringing a highly engaging and innovative approach to the long term development of place, community and culture in Pennine Lancashire."

Super Slow Way is hosted by the Canal & River Trust. Richard Parry, the Trust’s Chief Executive, said: “The Leeds & Liverpool Canal is itself a ‘super slow way’, weaving through a tapestry of landscapes and communities.  It is a place to escape and slow down, home to 200-year-old heritage and cutting edge 21st century technology.  It has the constant capacity to inspire.  We are so proud and excited to be one of the major partners of this project, through our national Arts on the Waterways programme. I look forward to seeing how the individual projects develop and what local people, working alongside internationally renowned artists, create.”